Get ready for Papa John’s Shaq Attack.
The pizza chain is showcasing Shaquille O’Neal and a new rallying cry, “better day,” in its first TV campaign featuring the former NBA star.
In the spots, O’Neal is the one voicing Papa John’s longtime “Better Ingredients. Better Pizza” slogan. For this campaign, “better day” is tacked onto the end (an oblique allusion to a few not-so-good days the chain had last year).
It’s the brand’s first major marketing push featuring O’Neal, who joined Papa John’s as a board member, franchisee and brand ambassador in March. It’s also Papa John’s first campaign from its new creative agency Camp & King.
In one of the first spots, O’Neal fires up staffers with high fives, hugs and a responsive cheer. “Who are we?” O’Neal asks in a booming tone. “Papa John’s,” the people gathered on multiple floors of the company’s Louisville headquarters respond. Later, O’Neal makes pizza, sits in a board meeting next to Papa John’s Chairman Jeffrey Smith, and brings pizza to kids all to the tune of Naughty By Nature's "Feel Me Flow."
“Obviously, Shaquille does a lot of endorsement work and we wanted this to be different than anything he’s done,” says Papa John’s Global Chief Marketing Officer Karlin Linhardt.
The pizza chain could use some better days after a long string of bleak ones, of course. Sales and the company’s share price slumped following founder John Schnatter’s comments criticizing NFL commissioner Roger Goodell regarding players' national anthem protests on a November 2017 investor call, and later took a dive after his use of the "n" word during a media training call was reported by Forbes in July 2018.